If you missed the original Tamalalia, if you were out of the country during Tamalalia 2!, if you simply forgot to go to last year's wild bash, Tamalalia 3: The Cocktail Party (in which our heroine, Tamarie Cooper, dreamed erotically of those English princes, William and Harry) -- no matter what your lame excuses, all is forgiven. Cooper doesn't hold grudges. Besides, she has been busy all year winning kudos from the critics with her performances for Infernal Bridegroom Productions. Now she's inviting simply everyone to the latest installment to emerge from her kooky imagination, Tamalalia 4: The Camp Out. In her trek through the woods, Tamarie meets up with some strange creatures: singing trees, ninja Girl Scouts, even some mountain-climbing drag queens. She'll be depending on composer William Harris and lyricist Greg Stanley to help her create the whole back-to-nature thing, and if this new show is anything like the last one, it will be the musical extravaganza of the summer. But please don't bring the kiddos -- who knows what Tamarie's dreaming of these days! The show opens tonight and runs Thursdays to Saturdays at 8 p.m. through June 26. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway, (713)522-8443. $10-$15. (Lee Williams)
Theater LaB Houston's Fringe Theater Festival opens this weekend with Sing Sweet Gospel, a performance that traces the history of gospel and features voices from both the St. Paul A.M.E. Church and the Kashmere High School choir, and Out on a Limb, a one-woman cabaret show by the LaB's own Deborah Boily. The festival continues throughout June and July with Jackie Clune singing the songs of the '70s in Chicks with Flicks and the Women's Works Project's examination of women, their breasts and cancer, Body Ratio 1:8. But the most "fringe" of the festival will undoubtedly be Tim Miller's My Queer Body. In 1991 Miller, one of the famous "NEA Four," was denied federal solo performer fellowships because of his work's explicit gay content. Miller's reaction was "to continue being an activist, slutty, queer point of light." Sing Sweet Gospel runs tonight and Saturday, June 5, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, June 6, at 5 p.m. at St. Paul's A.M.E. Church, 1708 Edwards. Out on a Limb runs tonight at 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, June 5, at 8:30 and 10 p.m. at Theater LaB, 1706 Alabama. Call (713)868-7516 for information on future shows. $15 each.
Sure, Henry Horenstein's new book is called Creatures, but to call him a wildlife photographer would be entirely unfair. His extreme close-ups and skewed angles turn animal parts like a spider monkey's tail or a Great Dane's tongue into sculptural fine art. At the same time, Horenstein's process of printing black-and-white positive film with color Cibachrome materials gives his photographs a familiar, brown tinge -- as if the subjects aren't wild animals at all but creatures from a children's book or even family pets. The paradoxical photographs will be on display at John Cleary Gallery through July 3. Horenstein himself will be present at today's opening reception and book signing from 6 to 8 p.m. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 2635 Colquitt (on Gallery Row), (713)524-5070. Free.
A campier collection of creatures will crawl up on Galveston's East Beach today for the American Institute of Architects' 13th Annual Sandcastle Competition. Past sand sightings have included a nine-foot-tall rendition of the poor soul in Edvard Munch's painting The Scream, Godzilla, The Spice Girls, the Taco Bell Chihuahua and the cast of characters from the "Rocky Horror Sandcastle Show." Architecture students from Rice University, the University of Houston, the University of Texas and other Texas schools will descend on the beach at the crack of dawn with buckets, rakes, brooms, spatulas, wheelbarrows and 40-gallon water drums. The building continues until 4 p.m., when the sand sculptures are judged. An awards ceremony follows at 5:30 p.m. Call (713)520-0155 for directions and more information. Free.
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When the Houston Grand Opera returned to the Miller Outdoor Theatre last summer for the first time in eight years, its production of Carmen attracted 20,000 people on a single Saturday night. It was the largest audience HGO had ever had. This year, they're back -- big surprise -- with another popular opera, Madame Butterfly. They'll use the same steel-tiered Multimedia Modular Stage with all its video screens and hydraulic lifts, but this year the opera itself will not be updated. Instead, the HGO plans to use all this technology to make the Miller Outdoor Theatre seem just like turn-of-the-century Japan. 8:30 p.m. Also, Friday and Saturday, June 4 and 5, 8:30 p.m. 100 Concert Drive, Hermann Park, (713)284-8350. Free.
The "Texas Bound" reading series pairs notable Texas actors with short stories by notable Texas authors. This year, the Alley Theatre's Jeffrey Bean, who recently played Oscar Wilde in Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, will read Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Olen Butler's Jealous Husband Returns in Form of Parrot. John Benjamin Hickey of Broadway's Cabaret revival and Love! Valour! Compassion! will read Assailable Character, by Tracey Daugherty. And Julie White, who played Nadine Swoboda on "Grace Under Fire," will read from Old Enough, the first book by San Antonio native Mary K. Flatten. 7:30 p.m. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Avenue, (713)228-8421. $14; $12, students, teachers and seniors.
Not even a cheesy Brendan Fraser movie could spoil our excitement over ancient Egyptian burial rituals. The Houston Museum of Natural Science's new exhibit, "Searching for Eternity: Life and Death in Ancient Egypt," has all your favorite Egyptian artifacts -- mummies, coffins, photographs of pyramids -- and a few you may not have heard of. The ushebtis, for instance, were statuettes designed to "work" in place of the dead in the next world. As many as 400 statuettes could be buried with a single person -- one worker for each day of the year, plus a supervisor for every ten workers. (Those Egyptians had the right idea.) Showing in conjunction with the exhibit is the museum's newest IMAX movie, Mysteries of Egypt. Legendary screen actor Omar Sharif stars in the first large-format film from National Geographic. The exhibit is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. $4; $3, children. The film shows from June 4 through October 14. Call (713)639-IMAX for showtimes and to purchase tickets. $6; $3.50, kids and seniors. 1 Hermann Circle Drive, Hermann Park, (713)639-4629, www.hmns.org.
What could possibly compete with a natural history museum exhibit about mummies? Well, a natural history museum exhibit about lesbians, of course. Performance artist Sharon Hayes is your tour guide through the conspicuously invisible exhibit of personal interviews, road stories and -- ta-da! -- the Hall of the Lesbian. Hayes gathered all of her anthropological data when she visited "lesbians in their natural habitat" on her 41-city Lesbian Love Tour. But if you're looking for a concise, scientific explanation of lesbianism as a cultural phenomenon, you're out of luck. Hayes, whose work has been seen all over New York from the Joseph Papp Public Theater to Performance Space 122, is too smart for that. Instead, the tour guide "denounces the assumption of an essential lesbian culture by revealing the essence of any culture -- the individual." Tonight's performance of The Lesbian at DiverseWorks is accompanied by a special dinner. 7 p.m.; $75. Call Lisa Haymes at (713)223-8346 for reservations. The run of the show continues Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 10, 11 and 12, at 8 p.m. $15; $10, students and seniors. 1117 East Freeway, (713)228-0914.